Nov 25 2007
The documentary shows their lives intimately, including scenes of them shooting up drugs. The exercise clearly gives them little pleasure, other than deadening their senses to their plight.
The documentary brought to mind a recent Economist article highlighting some experimental research that poked a big hole in the longstanding theory of drug addiction. The research implied environment had far more to do with addiction than the drug itself.
Oft-quoted studies on individual rats in little empty cages showed that when given a choice between cocaine-laced water and regular water, the rats invariably chose the toxic water.
But in the study highlighted in the Economist, rats living amongst their kin in spacious and stimulating environments (essentially Vancouver’s West End for rats) almost always rejected the drugged water.
Even a group of rats fed drugs to create dependency rejected the poison when later given the opportunity, despite the discomfort of withdrawal.
Given the despair of the Downtown Eastside, it’s certainly easy to see how the Economist study would apply.